Technology put at heart of emissions cuts

The federal government expects to invest more than $18 billion in new energy technologies to 2030.
The federal government expects to invest more than $18 billion in new energy technologies to 2030.

More than $18 billion of taxpayer funds will go toward new energy technologies in a bid to lower Australia's emissions.

Investments will be prioritised in hydrogen, carbon capture and storage rather than technologies the federal government views as standing on their feet - such as wind, solar, coal and gas.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor will on Tuesday outline his first low emissions technology statement, laying out a blueprint for prices he'd like to achieve.

This will include long-duration energy storage dispatched at under $100 per megawatt-hour and carbon dioxide compression, transport and storage under $20 a tonne.

Mr Taylor will say cutting emissions is best achieved through investing in technology rather than imposing taxes.

The coalition government will keep a "watching brief" on the development of small modular nuclear reactors and early-stage technology such as direct air capture systems.

A Technology Investment Advisory Council will be set up to advise the government on progress, chaired by chief scientist Alan Finkel.

Mr Taylor hopes the $18 billion investment, spent over the next decade, will turn into $50 billion with help from the private sector, state governments, research institutions and other publicly funded bodies.

The minister expects this will drive 130,000 jobs to 2030.

"Importantly these are jobs with a strong focus in the regions and in traditional industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and resources," he will say.

Labor's energy spokesman Mark Butler says the plan is a "roadmap to nowhere".

"In the deepest recession in almost a century, this long series of announcements in energy won't deliver a single new job in the timeframe Australia needs," he said.

Nationals senator and former resources minister Matt Canavan isn't pleased with the plan, saying he will continue fighting for coal.

"It would be much better for us to prioritise technologies we know will work to create jobs today, things like high-efficiency low-emission coal-powered fire stations (and) fracking," he told Sky News.

Mr Taylor will argue his plan will avoid 250 million tonnes of emissions by 2040, but critics say this isn't enough.

"Angus Taylor's inaugural low emissions statement is the first climate policy since the Black Summer bushfires and it fails to actually lower emissions, claiming it will take 20 years to see any serious cut to Australia's carbon footprint," the Australia Institute's Richie Merzian said.

The government's plan will be taken to the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow scheduled for November 2021.

States, territories, business groups and farmers are urging the coalition to also adopt a target of net zero emissions by 2050.

But the government will only say it has a broad aim to achieve this sometime in the second half of the century.

Australian Associated Press